A Answers (11)
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredWhile men typically feel the crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks, women’s symptoms tend to seem unrelated to chest pain, such as abdominal or upper back discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, light headedness or sweating.Helpful? 16 people found this helpful.
Johns Hopkins Medicine answered
Women can often experience relatively subtle, atypical symptoms that don’t fit into classic definitions of a heart attack. This can be of great concern when it comes to diagnosis, if the physician is only looking for the typical heart attack symptoms (pain down the left arm and crushing pain in the chest area).
Although it’s still important to be aware of classic heart attack symptoms, women also tend to experience symptoms such as indigestion, shortness of breath, neck and/or back pain, either along with or independently of chest pain.
The key to heart disease prevention in women is for both the patient and physician to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors particular to women. Many hospital facilities are now specifically addressing these cardiovascular needs. The Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center at Johns Hopkins is one example.
Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, Cardiology, answered
Women's heart attack symptoms are different and subtler than in men; she may have chest pain, but shortness of breath, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, back pain and nausea are also common. Watch cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, explain these symptoms.
Though men and women may not necessarily have different presenting symptoms of heart attack, women are more likely to attribute their symptoms to something other than heart disease. Typical symptoms of heart attack include chest heaviness, oppression, and retrosternal burning. However, women may also present with more atypical symptoms such a nausea, dyspnea (shortness of breath), and diaphoresis (sweatiness). These atypical symptoms are called "anginal equivalents" and may be indicators of heart attack by themselves.
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Both women and men may have typical symptoms of heart attack, including chest pain or pressure that radiates to the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw and shortness of breath.
Women can certainly experience chest pain, but they should also be on the lookout for less obvious symptoms, such as nausea, indigestion, palpitations, overwhelming fatigue, and lightheadedness -- in addition to shortness of breath and back pain.
Women are less likely to seek treatment immediately with such symptoms because they are less typical for a heart attack.Sometimes heart attack symptoms are attributed to other health problems, such as indigestion, which is why it is so important to ask your doctor to administer an EKG test or an enzyme blood test.
Heart attack symptoms in women are likely to be different from those experienced by men. Both men and women may experience common symptoms of pain or pressure in the chest, but women may also have these less obvious symptoms:
- Discomfort in the back, shoulders, arms, stomach, jaw, neck or throat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Inability to sleep
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
Anthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredAlthough the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain or discomfort, other symptoms tend to vary depending on your gender:
Symptoms of a heart attack in men include:
- Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest
- Pain or discomfort that radiates to the upper body, especially shoulders or arms and neck
- Pressure, aching, or tightness in the center of the chest (although not as frequently as in men)
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness; unusual fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back or jaw pain
There can be some differences in the signs and symptoms that women and men experience when they are having a heart attack. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest discomfort (pain or pressure) in the middle of the chest lasting more then five minutes. Other signs that may go along with the chest discomfort are nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness or lightheadedness. Many times women experience shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, pain in the jaw, arms, back along with the nausea and vomiting. If any or all of these symptoms are experienced immediate medical attention is needed. Call 911 to seek immediate medical attention as quickly as possible.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital answeredYes, while men experience chest pain, 45% of women with heart attacks do not. Symptoms in women can include nausea, indigestion, sweating, shortness of breath, fatigue, or jaw pain.
Many women do not experience chest pain during a heart attack, but may experience nausea, indigestion, sweating, and shortness of breath.
American Red Cross answeredBoth men and women experience the most common signal for a heart attack: chest pain or discomfort. However, women may experience many other signals that are different than men.
SCAI answeredWhen a heart attack strikes, seconds count for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Any delay in treating a heart attack increases the chance of permanent, irreparable damage to the heart - and any heart attack can be fatal!
Men and women share some heart attack symptoms in common, but women are more likely to experience symptoms that are not commonly thought of as indicators of a heart attack. If you do find that you are having any one or a combination of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
Warning Signs Not Unique to Women
- Chest pain or discomfort: Heart attacks can involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or stabbing pain.
- Remember: Heart attacks are not always preceded by chest pain. Other common symptoms that can represent a heart attack include:
- pain radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, arm, or jaw
- pounding heart, change in rhythm
- difficulty breathing
- heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
- cold sweats or clammy skin
Warning Signs Particularly Common in Women
- sudden onset of weakness, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, indigestion, fatigue, body aches, or overall feeling of illness (without chest pain)
- unusual feeling or mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck, or jaw (without chest pain)
- sleep disturbance